The small intestine or small bowel make up one part of the digestive system. It connects the stomach to the colon, also known as the large intestine. Its primary function is to digest and absorb food into the body. The whole gastrointestinal tract including the small intestine contains bacteria. However, the amount of bacteria varies in location with the numbers and types of bacteria being very high and different in the colon and much lesser in the small intestine. Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO if you want to avoid the tongue twister, is a condition in which abnormally large amounts of bacteria that are more commonly found in the colon multiply in vast numbers in the small intestine.
When the small intestine has a healthy and normal range of bacteria, it does a number of great things for our bodies. One key function is maintaining healthy muscular activity within the small intestine creating wavelike movements pushing intestinal contents through the gut. When SIBO is present it disrupts this activity and allows the bacteria to build up. The normal functions of the small intestine are affected when SIBO is present and the causes for SIBO are both complex and numerous.
CAUSES FOR SIBO
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Low stomach acid
Prior bowel surgery
Diabetes (type I and II)
Multiple courses of antibiotics
Organ system dysfunction
Other research also attributes the cause of SIBO to moderate alcohol consumption, oral contraceptives, food poisoning, and Diverticuli (small pouches) inside the small intestine that allow bacteria to grow inside the Diverticuli.
SYMPTOMS OF SIBO
Those suffering from SIBO will have symptoms such as:
Abdominal distention and bloating
Excessive wind and burping
In extreme cases, patients will notice weight loss, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies as the small intestine is unable to absorb them properly due to bacterial overgrowth, fatigue as well as aches and pains. SIBO is usually a chronic condition which can last months, years and even decades before a diagnosis is ever made.
TESTING FOR SIBO
When testing for SIBO there are a couple of procedures a patient can choose from:
Culturing bacteria from the small intestine. This procedure requires a long flexible tube to pass through the nose, throat and esophagus and enter the stomach to gather fluid from the small intestine to be cultured.
The Hydrogen Breath Test (HBT). A test which measures specific gases exhaled by the patient with special analyzers.
Measuring specific organic acids present in urine when there is a prolific amount of bacterial overgrowth.
Though there are these options out there, testing for SIBO is tricky due to the high levels of false/positive results, the cost, and the overall lack of literature and knowledge on the condition.
Antibiotics are the go-to when it comes to treating SIBO, namely Rifaximin is prescribed to patients. Unfortunately, research shows that SIBO returns in nearly half the patients within one year of using antibiotics. Antibiotics also prove counterproductive when treating SIBO because they can kill good bacteria as well as the bad. Botanical Antimicrobial protocol is a natural or herbal route that is proving more effective. Probiotics which help to improve your gut are also a natural way to combat SIBO. A grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free and unprocessed diet like the one provided on this website, is also known to aid in the process of beating SIBO. There are also pro-kinetic agents that may help increase the muscular activity in the small intestine. Octreotide and low doses of Naltrexone are two such agents currently being researched for effectivity.
In summary, SIBO is the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. This condition disrupts the normal functions of the small intestine resulting in painful and chronic symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, and constipation, to name a few. Patients can get SIBO for a number of reasons including Crohn’s and Celiac disease, stress and diabetes. There are ways of testing for SIBO, but costly procedures and unreliable results make it a long, difficult and often inconclusive process. In turn, treating SIBO is also a tedious and strenuous task that involves taking prolonged doses of antibiotics and/or probiotics and herbs. Patients can also try to adjust their diet to eat very strictly, which has shown to aid in the healing process. Research is currently underway about prokinetic agents which help the muscular activity in the small intestine pass intestinal contents through the gut. Continued research on SIBO will help us better understand this painful disease and discover ways to better help those affected by it.
BeatSIBO.com was born because it’s founder, Melissa - knows from experience how rough it is to undergo SIBO treatment alone. This site provides Information, Recipes, Tips, and Support in order to be your one stop shop in beating Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth and living the healthy life of your dreams.